Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa: ‘Restoring Savanna Ecosystem at Sinsinawa Mound’

SINSINAWA, Wis.—On Dec. 19, work will begin to restore the savanna ecosystem on the elevation known as Sinsinawa Mound in southwest Wisconsin. Ronald Lindblom, land stewardship director for Sinsinawa Dominicans, Inc., will oversee the process of clearing nonnative trees from the mound so that the current forest is transformed into a 28-acre oak savanna, one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet.

Dresen Services of Cassville, Wis., will perform the initial phase of the project through mid-January. This involves the selective removal of invasive trees and plants which constitute 80 percent of the woody growth in the project area. Removal will occur by timber harvest, mulching, and burning in small piles. This work will be followed by other restoration phases such as reseeding and introducing a natural fire cycle to the project area. “In the weeks ahead, small fires on the mound landscape will be planned and should not be cause for alarm for neighbors of the motherhouse or visitors and guests to Sinsinawa Mound Center,” said Lindblom.

Ray Hess, chief operations officer at Sinsinawa Mound, said, “We are excited about this project to help fulfill the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters’ articulated values of truth, justice, compassion, hospitality, and community. This restoration will provide habitat to rare species, help address climate change which effects people and wildlife, demonstrate stewardship of sacred ecosystems, and offer a unique segment of natural heritage to the greater community.” 

The Sinsinawa Dominicans have led several ecological initiatives as a congregation on the 452-acre property in recent years. These include putting 230 acres of farmland into organic agricultural production, installing over an acre of solar panels for energy efficiency, offering a collaborative farm mentorship program, and designating old growth forest and prairie restoration projects which will commence in 2019.  

Sinsinawa Mound, the motherhouse for the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters and their retreat center, is located at 585 County Road Z, Sinsinawa, Wis. To learn more about their mission of building a holy and just Church and society, visit online. Inquiries about the oak savanna restoration project can be directed to Lindblom at (608) 748-4411, ext. 860.